MAINE, USA — It was a perfect weekend to get outside, and hundreds across the state took the chance to visit some of Maine's blueberry farms for the first 'Maine Wild Blueberry Weekend.'
"It's really made a difference for us," said Sylvia Dorham with Varney Family Farm in Chesterville.
On Saturday and Sunday, in addition to 14 wild blueberry farms taking part, more than 50 bars and restaurants also highlighted their use of wild blueberries in recipes.
"Everybody wants to see that market bump come up and be really rewarded for taking care of that landscape here in Maine," said Ron Adams, a consultant with the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine.
The weekend was coordinated by the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine in an effort to bring more folks out to local farms and businesses to highlight the blueberry industry in Maine. Adams says he hopes this becomes an annual tradition, similar to Maine Maple Sunday, which is celebrated each March.
"People come to Maine for this experience, they've read 'Blueberries for Sal', they've seen 'One Morning in Maine', and they want to do that," said Dorham.
On Sunday, dozens visited Dorham and Varney Family Farm, getting to pick their own wild blueberries, while also touring the farm and its facilities.
Dorham says the farm typically produces around 2,000 pounds of wild blueberries each year. In 2021, she says there was fear the crop would not produce that amount due to the drought in the early part of the summer.
"The life of a farmer is one of worry, you're always concerned about what the weather is bringing you. And we were pretty concerned in June that there might not even be berries," said Dorham.
That all changed in July, however, when the rain was plentiful, creating great conditions for growing and harvesting the wild berries.
'Three of Strong Spirits', a distillery in Portland, is one local spot that took part in the weekend. The cocktail 'purple haze' took center stage for the weekend, as it's topped with wild blueberries.
"The really bright notes of blueberry comes across and play really well with some of the tropical notes in our oaked Acadian for example," said Dave McConnell, co-owner of Three of Strong.
Dozens of other local businesses also took part, including breweries, restaurants, wineries, and bakeries.